PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 1-0 Stade de Reims
1970 PSG Man Of The Match: Blaise Matuidi
Paris Saint-Germain are sitting proudly at the top of Ligue 1 for the first time this season thanks to a 1-0 win over Stade de Reims this evening.
A second-half header from Kevin Gameiro was enough to ensure all three points in a battling display against a resolute side.
Carlo Ancelotti shuffled the pack with his squad somewhat depleted, especially in midfield. Marco Verratti was suspended where as Clement Chantome, Thiago Motta and Mathieu Bodmer were out due to injury. Maxwell was pushed into midfield along with Blaise Matuidi and another full-back in the form of Gregory Van der Wiel. Mamadou Sakho was made captain with Christophe Jallet on the bench and took up his role at right-back. Sylvain Armand was operating on the opposite side. Nene came in for Javier Pastore who was benched and Gameiro partnered Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.
It was the visitors who started the better with a flurry of early chances. Gaetan Courtet was inches away from heading home at the back-post only to be denied by Sirigu who then immediately palmed away Diego’ stinging shot.
Les Parisiens soon began to settle and dominated on the possession front. However, a lack of creativity was evident and the play was a little static at times. Zlatan was isolated, as too Gameiro, but this was largely down to a well organised Reims team.
The best chance of the half for PSG fell to Gameiro. A diligent back heel from Nene found the Frenchman who oozed into the box but his shot bundled off Kossi Agassa before being cleared off the line by Aissa Mandi.
The visitors were awarded a penalty before half-time. Van der Wiel intentionally moved his arm in the direction of the ball resulting in the award. Thankfully, Sirigu came to the rescue again, guessing the right way to deny Diego.
At the interval, Jeremy Menez was brought on for Nene and he did make a difference. Once again, we dominated the play, but without really creating any clear cut chances. Maxwell took to his new role in midfield like a duck to water and bombarded his way through the middle, picking out Gameiro on the inside left but his cross for Ibra was poor.
Minutes later, Les Bleus’ in-vogue midfielder Blaise Matuidi rattled the cross bar with a finesse shot after Reims failed to clear a corner. Then Menez hit the woodwork after doing brilliantly to weave into a pocket of space and then smashing the post with a left foot strike.
PSG pressed and finally made the breakthrough thanks to Gameiro. Maxwell produced a sublime cross from the right to find the Frenchman in the six-yard box who was never going to miss.
Julien Toudic nearly grabbed a late equaliser with an acrobatic bicycle kick that hit the turf before clipping the bar to the relief of those in blue.
Thankfully we held on to go top of the table – for the time being at least – with Marseille playing on Sunday. Attention now turns to the trip to Croatia on Wednesday in the Champions League.
One worry however is that Mamadou Sakho departed the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury. Awaiting news on this and hopefully it is not too serious.